Ok. Yes. I am planning the day’s run on the bus. Ordinarily, I am a bit more organized than this. Confession: I am not entirely sure what I am doing with the two to three folios in the middle of the book. I know vaguely what I want, but not how I am going to get there. So the book goes like this: Five spreads of flowing text and the colored silhouettes of the objects that are featured in the book. They look something like this:
Then come some mysterious folios oh god what will they look like. Then the appendix, where each of these objects is printed in a more formal way with halftones and dry descriptions. Like this:
In between, I want two or three spreads with minimal text and a lot of color. I want to provide a transition from the (somewhat unusual) narrative of the text into a more abstract pattern created by the shapes of the objects. I want these few spreads to convey some kind of emotional connection to these valueless things.
But I don’t know how to do that.
Anyway, I put myself in this position deliberately. While I don’t think it is a great idea to start printing a book before you know how swathes of it are going to look, the opposite extreme is equally unsettling. I want to have some element of spontaneity or the book might feel dry, calculated, and uninteresting. I knew how I wanted the other parts of the book to look, and I hoped that printing those pages would guide me in the right direction and give me some ideas for these spreads. And it has, although not as quickly as I might have wanted.
First order of business, provide some continuity between the last folio of text and the first mystery folio. I dealt with this a few days ago by bringing the last two words of text into Mystery Folio #1 in exactly the same position as they were on the preceding page. Precise registration can do so much for you, really. I already posted about this run, you can see it here if you are interested.
Next decision for this folio: A gray bleed. I will print the entire spread a faint gray, hopefully echoing a gray I used for text earlier in the book and the gray I used for the objects on the title page.
Ok, a break here for some quick press talk. The gray I am going to print here is much lighter than both the gray I used for text and the title page object gray because I am printing the entire surface of the sheet. It should feel similar even though it is lighter because there will be so much of it. If I printed it in the same darker gray, it would be completely overwhelming. The mix is mostly transparent white, possibly a 1 part black to 100 parts trans white.
Because the gray is so faint, and because the press at the studio is shared by a number of people, I am going to give it a quick clean before I get started. And lucky I did! Look at this!
Orange! Gross. Anyway, I clean all of that off and am ready to get some light gray on the press.
When I print large fields of color, a bleed or a large shape for example, I use this awesome stuff that a student of mine turned me onto a few years ago. If you want to make your life a million times easier, listen up: Speedball Flexible Printing Plate. It is a thin plastic sheet with an adhesive back.
You can cut it with scissors, it sits just a hair over type high on a boxcar base (or at any height you want if you make a base yourself,) and it takes the ink like an absolute dream, much better than a linoleum block. It is absolutely perfect for printing big fields of color evenly. And you can reuse it over and over. Ok, that’s it for product placement. But I am telling you, it is amazing stuff and as soon as I used one sheet, I bought a ten pack.
Yes. So. I printed a gray bleed. Below see the preceding page of text, and the beginnings of the first mystery folio.
Because the sheets are covered in so much ink I am wary of stacking the them on top of one another. I group them in tens and hang them from this ingenious drying rack.
While that is drying, it is time to focus on Mystery Folio #2. Here is what I came up with on the bus:
A gray circular blob, printed in the same color as the last page. It will eventually contain overlapping silhouettes of the objects printed in bright colors. So I get to work. I cut up the Speedball plate, I position it on the press, I get it in the right place with some trial and error.
It occurs to me suddenly that I have no idea really how well all of the objects will fit into this shape. I cut up some proofs so that I can have a look:
They fit fine, and so it is time to go.
Kablam. It would be best to let this dry before moving forward, but I am impatient and want to get this going. So I add some blue to the gray on the press, throw a plate on the base, and start up again.
And here it is. Two runs down. At least nine to go on this sheet. So that is what I’ll be doing over the next few days. I leave for the United States on Tuesday, and I am hoping to get one of these folios finished before I do. Cross your fingers for me.